Writing admissions to explain grades?

MissouriFam

Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Messages
20
My DS is a re-applicant who struggled with chemistry in the first semester at college and ended up with a C. I saw somewhere on this forum a suggestion that he write a letter to his admissions officer explaining his experience last semester and what he learned from it. Now I can't find the thread back. Is this a good idea?
 

Old Navy BGO

5-Year Member
Joined
Jan 5, 2012
Messages
2,501
IF there is a good reason ,i.e. circumstances beyond the students control, ie.. illness, death in family, that materially affected a students ability to perform , I would say it couldn't hurt. There is little risk of drawing attention to the grade, that is probably the number 1 thing Admissions is going to be looking at with a re-applicant. All college admissions boards have to ponder the question whether an applicant can succeed in their academic environment; ACT/SAT and high school grades are only predictors of academic success in college. With a re-applicant, USNA Admissions has the benefit of seeing actual performance - that is why the wait to review re-applicants until first semester grades are in.

If DS is going to send an "explanation", one word of caution ...AVOID EXCUSES . Nothing will turn the Admissions Board off quicker than an excuse or explanation that smells like avoiding personal responsibility. (One of the first things a new Plebe learns is the phrase " No Excuse Sir..."). Personally, unless there are circumstances beyond the students control, I don't think an attempt to an explain will have much value.
 

usna1985

10-Year Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2006
Messages
6,184
Agree 100% with Old Navy. Reasons such as: adjusting to new school/environment, difficulty understanding the prof, prof is a tough grader, time management issues, horrid roommate, too many pre-med students in the class, etc. will not resonate with USNA. Even the major issues that Old Navy mentions need to be really major. The reason is that most college/USNA students have to deal with various personal issues. If every issue affects your ability to do perform in the classroom, that doesn't bode well for you at USNA or in the fleet.

For example, I had a candidate actually apologize to me for not being able to attend CVW the upcoming WE. Why? Her mother had died of cancer earlier that week and the funeral was on the Saturday of CVW. I was amazed she'd come to the BGO interview and said as much -- she replied that her mother had been sick for a long time, that the interview was important to her (and her mother wanted her to do it) and that she hadn't wanted to inconvenience me! I'm not suggesting everyone would or should react this way . . . just that stuff happens in life and USNA and the USN/USMC expects that you'll handle most of that "stuff" in the normal course. Thus, if something happened in college or in h.s. to affect your grades, it really has to be a big deal in order for USNA to "consider" it.
 

MissouriFam

Member
Joined
Nov 9, 2016
Messages
20
Thank you for your input. My concern's are exactly what you had expressed, don't want it to come off as excuses. He had no special circumstance. He was playing DI football and taking 18 hours - but those demands will be very much the same at USNA. He is not being recruited to play football, but he is keenly aware of the demands of academy life. His best friend is a plebe at USAFA and another childhood buddy is a 2nd year at USNA. Bottom line is that he learned a tremendous amount last semester about time management, study habits, and distractions. Those lessons will be very valuable if he should be fortunate enough to gain an appointment. As a re-applicant our MOCs ask for semester grades, so quite honestly he was a little surprised to get the nomination. I think he will ride it out and see what happens. Hoping for the best.
 

Maplerock

Proud to be an American
5-Year Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2013
Messages
1,019
Grading is a subjective thing, and often grades are inflated. This especially happens in schools where tuition is paid. Schools want that $$$ and kids that don't make As and Bs may have parents rethinking the school placement. Just bringing this up because there should be a lot more Cs than there are. Some subjects are hard. There are bound to be Cs if the teachers are grading strictly.

The C may be a problem, but being a football player enrolled in 18 hours of classes sure has his hands full. Even at the academies there are lots of different types of teachers. Some are tough, some are easy. Some grade on a curve, and others dont. (Mine never did) some allow extra credit. Others have lots of group work.

OK, what the heck am I saying? He's a reapplicant. He has determination and perseverence on his side. Just make sure his essays and recommendations speak to that. Good luck, I sure hope he makes it!
 

Dabakkim

Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2018
Messages
54
Agree 100% with Old Navy. Reasons such as: adjusting to new school/environment, difficulty understanding the prof, prof is a tough grader, time management issues, horrid roommate, too many pre-med students in the class, etc. will not resonate with USNA. Even the major issues that Old Navy mentions need to be really major. The reason is that most college/USNA students have to deal with various personal issues. If every issue affects your ability to do perform in the classroom, that doesn't bode well for you at USNA or in the fleet.

For example, I had a candidate actually apologize to me for not being able to attend CVW the upcoming WE. Why? Her mother had died of cancer earlier that week and the funeral was on the Saturday of CVW. I was amazed she'd come to the BGO interview and said as much -- she replied that her mother had been sick for a long time, that the interview was important to her (and her mother wanted her to do it) and that she hadn't wanted to inconvenience me! I'm not suggesting everyone would or should react this way . . . just that stuff happens in life and USNA and the USN/USMC expects that you'll handle most of that "stuff" in the normal course. Thus, if something happened in college or in h.s. to affect your grades, it really has to be a big deal in order for USNA to "consider" it.
Would something like a death of a father or a mother which resulted in the applicant having to take a job to support the family be significant enough?
 
Top